A small, family farm in Wisconsin

Posts tagged ‘housekeeping’

Eating Healthy and Frugal Shopping

For years I’ve read  about how to save money on groceries.  I’ve known for a long time that I spend too much at the grocery store, and a few months ago I decided to use some of the tips I’ve read and heard  and try to lower my food costs.  The basic necessities have skyrocketed in price.  Things like dairy products, coffee (yes, it’s a necessity), and bread. But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
I’ve discovered that trying to eat healthy has been a step in the direction of cutting costs.  In fact, trying to eat healthy has resulted in the cost savings that we’re experiencing.  I know that some will argue that healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables are expensive, but what I found is that by cutting processed foods out of our diets as much as possible, we have stopped spending our money on things like processed cold cuts, chips, soda, Lee’s beloved Little Debbie snacks. I don’t buy canned, boxed, and packaged foods much any more and I’m selective about the ones I do buy. We also eat less meat, with at least 1 meatless meal per week, and smaller portions when we do eat meat.
I should mention that I’m not much of a coupon clipper.  I do use store coupons and the occasional manufacturer’s coupon for items I would be buying that week anyway.  I don’t use coupons for anything that isn’t already on my list and I don’t stockpile.
Here are the significant changes that have resulted in lowering my food shopping costs.
1.  I start by making a weekly menu plan for our dinners. This is key!  I use the store ads (I have 2 grocery stores where I can shop here in Small Town, USA) and shop at whichever store has the best deals that week.  I don’t drive from store to store.  I plan our meals based on what’s on sale.  I use a weekly menu plan sheet that I found online and printed.  You can Google ” printable menu planner”  and find one that you like.  The completed menu for the week is posted so that I can look at it the night before and remove whatever I need from the freezer.  I never have a “what am I going to make for dinner?”  moment any more.  Lee enjoys being able to look at the menu to see what he’s getting for dinner.
2.  Our lunches are always leftovers from the night before.  I plan to have leftovers.  Sometimes  I make enough to freeze another meal, especially if I’m making soup or a crock pot meal.  I never buy any processed meats for lunches.  If there’s nothing left over from the night before, I always have tuna in the pantry and eggs and cheese in the fridge so I can make sandwiches.
3.  Breakfast savings came from cutting out the purchase of frozen breakfast foods and most cold cereals.  I make waffles, pancakes, and french toast and freeze what we don’t eat for another breakfast meal.  We eat hot cereals.  I don’t buy as much cold cereal as I used to, and what I do buy is whole grain, no added sugar.  I know that lots of folks skip breakfast.  We don’t.  Lee works hard on the farm and needs that morning meal.  I’m diabetic and can’t skip meals.
4.  Snacks are an area where we really see the savings.  Lee loves his snacks.  Do you know how expensive granola bars are?  Now I make my own and Lee likes them so much better than the store-bought ones.  I don’t buy cookies, I make them…but not often.  We bought a food dehydrator and I’m in the process of learning how to dry foods and make healthy snacks.  Apple, banana, and sweet potato chips.  Fruit leathers.  Kale chips.  I’ll let you know how it’s working out.
5.  I don’t impulse buy.  I have a list and I buy only what’s on the list.  I’ve gotten good about keeping a list in progress and I always add items I’ve run out of immediately.  When I make my list for the week I already have it started and don’t have to try to remember what we need. I buy for 1 week and don’t try to stock up on sale items other than staples that I like to have on hand all the time.
I think I’ve hit all the high points.  I realize that not everyone has time to cook everything from scratch.  I’m fortunate that I’m home all day, every day and I have lots of time to prepare our meals.  I don’t want to give you a dollar figure or percentage regarding my savings, because I’d like to watch it for a year or so to give it a fair trial, but I’m happy to report that my grocery bills have gone down a lot  and are consistently lower than they were a few months ago.

Pantry Challenge

A few months ago I did a 30 day pantry challenge.  I prepared our meals using only foods that were already available in my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer, with a few exceptions.  I purchased fresh fruits and vegetables as we needed them, and also dairy products and baked goods.  I’m quite capable of baking all the breads and rolls that we might need, but I have dietary restrictions on carbs, so I do have to purchase low carb breads and other baked items.  During the challenge I learned that we can easily live on the foods we’ve stocked up on when they were on sale.  I also learned that my pantry has been missing some items that would have been good to have on hand.  I made no special preparation or purchases before starting the challenge. 

I thought about putting a well stocked pantry checklist in this post, but really, everyone has different needs and items they consider essential.  So instead I’ll just suggest that you make your own checklist of necessities.  If you’re adventurous, try taking the pantry challenge yourself.   If you’d like to know more about  how to do a pantry challenge, I think you could Google it and find more information.  There’s a yahoo group called Pantry Challenge that  is full of meal planning, shopping and recipe tips. 

My Pantry Challenge/Frugal Living  advice is to stock up on items you normally buy when they’re on sale.  Use coupons, especially store coupons, when they’re for items you’d buy anyway.  Shop at places like Aldi where you can get amazing deals on everyday groceries.  You already know all these things.  Let me know if you do a pantry challenge and how it worked out for you.

Even if you don’t do the challenge, take a look at what you have on hand, and calculate how long your family could live on what’s in your pantry , fridge and freezer.  With the crazy winter weather we’ve had, lots of folks have discovered that they can’t get to the store and should have been better prepared.

Too Busy

clean-your-houseI’m just too busy to post.  Fall is always busy here, but more so right now.  I’m forced to do my fall cleaning.  Does anyone do seasonal cleaning any more?  Spring and fall cleaning?  Window washing?  I’ve always done it and I guess I always will.  I’m doing a big, serious house cleaning because we’ll be having company…sleep over company.  I do NOT want to be the subject of family gossip!  No one will criticize my housekeeping skills if I have anything to say about it.  There will be no cobwebs here.  No dusty, neglected corners.  Beds will be clean and fresh and smell great.  Windows will sparkle.  Maybe my ambitions are a bit bigger than my vacuum, but it’ll be a lot cleaner when I’m done.

cookingLadyI’m cooking, too.  Baking and freezing at this point.  We’re feeding about 50 people on the Sunday of our big weekend.  Yes, I’m busy, but it makes me happy.  I’m going to be spending time with people I love who I don’t see every day.  I’m happy to report that Lee has jumped on my obsessive little band wagon and is  attending to some of his neglected projects.  Yay Lee!  Now I’d like Charlie to do his part to keep his toys picked up and his hair from  shedding.

charlie cutout

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